Culture and Civilization of Byzantium and the Christian East I

lglor1522  2017-2018  Louvain-la-Neuve

Culture and Civilization of Byzantium and the Christian East I
3 credits
30.0 h

This biannual learning unit is being organized in 2017-2018
Somers Véronique;
Main themes
An introduction to the main guidelines of Christian civilisation in the Caucasus, Syro-Mesopotamia and Persia.
The course serves to introduce the characteristics of oriental Christian communities: literature, the monasteries and their role in culture and the emergence of Christian literature, the different types of monasticism, pilgrimage, saints, transmission of sciences and of ancient heritage. Particular attention is given to important cultural centres, such as Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Edessa, Baghdad as well as monastic centres in Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


At the end of this course the student will be able to better understand the principal characteristics of the oriental Christian communities, in the fields of literature, religion, science and arts. He will be able to present orally the results of a research of limited dimension on a specific cultural subject.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
1. Byzantium : The first part of the course will be dealing with Constantinople, the millenary capital-city of the Empire (topography, types of monuments, importance in the Emoire life, etc.), with a particular focus on churches (buildings) and monasteries (origins, evolution, etc.).
2. Christian East : The course is composed of several modules, each complete in itself. These modules vary from year to year in function both of the current context and the interests of the students, touching, for example, on the following themes:
- the foundation of the Oriental churches;
- the cultural role of the monasteries;
- the phenomenology of Coptic and Syrian monasticism;
- the Stylites;
- the important sites of Oriental pilgrimages;
- Jerusalem and its importance for Byzantine and oriental Christianity;
- Sinai and its role in the preservation and literary transmission of the
oriental communities;
- the Deir Suryan monastery in Egypt;
- centres of knowledge in the Orient and in the Caucasus.
Teaching methods
1. Byzantium : The 'ex cathedra' lectures are illustrated with ppt presentations, completed by documentation given by the teacher and/or personal research.
2. Christian East : The lectures are given for the most part by means of a Power-point. The students will be required to do small class-work exercises 
of research and/or prepare short presentations (individually or in group) on specific aspects of the themes that have been exposed in the lectures, with a view to leading a discussion.
Evaluation methods
1. Byzantium (50%) : A final oral exam is based on the teaching given during the course ; moreover, the student is invited to develop part of it.
2. Christian East (50%) : Continuous evaluation during the course with a final exam (oral or written) based on the required readings.
Other information
1) Students following the course must register near V. Somers to be given access to the documentation supplied on Moodle.
2) In 2017-2018, V. Somers will be in charge og the whole course, which will focus mainly on Byzantium.
3) The first lecture has been set by default on Tuesday 19/09/2017, 2-4 p.m., room d.243. Every student interested but not free for schedule reasons is invited to contact V. Somers ( to let her know his/her disponibilities, in order to find a solution suitable to most people.
Online resources
Ouvrages de référence :
- E. Bianchi, K. Ware et G. Khodr, Les richesses de l'Orient Chrétien, Pully, 2000.
- M. Zibawi, Orients chrétiens: entre Byzance et l'Islam, Paris, 1995.
D'autres éléments bibliographiques sont fournis au cours.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in Ancient Languages and Literatures: Oriental Studies

Bachelor in History of Art and Archaeology : General

Minor in Oriental Studies

Minor in Medieval Studies

Minor in Literary Studies